Perennials to start saving for next spring

With winter quickly approaching, many gardeners are thinking about spring. For a start, while I can’t give you the time table for spring, I can let you know that, while some plants don’t need it, for others it is just around the corner. Right now, plantmen are talking to us about putting up their nursery plants and for many who recently hosed them down, they’re heading home to dig out the pots.

As for the others, in my opinion, there is no rush to throw out your perennials in case your favorite plants turn a little yellow. I don’t have a problem with some perennials either flowering into the wind, snow or heat during the winter as long as they know they are valued in your garden. However, I do encourage gardeners to consider which perennials are the most important for their garden, which might include snapdragons, aloe, watermelons, dahlias, coleus, summer-blooming roses and many more.

A well-manicured garden is an asset to all, but we all love plants which are long-lived. For some gardeners this year of choosing perennials is time well spent as they still have a field day with those types of plants which flower year-round.

One of the most common questions asked by gardeners is the difference between annuals and perennials. A common question is, “If you have annuals, when will you see them blooming next year?” The answers to the above questions are no, there is no direct correlation. However, flowers do grow on the leaves of many plants which may be consider annuals.

One of the reasons why these plants are called annuals is because of the timing of their blooming. If you are planning to give these plants a place in your garden year-round, then, for me, the bloom date for these plants is much earlier than annuals which flower every year.

So many of the annual flowers are also winter flowering, like marigolds, rose hips, daisies, and yarrow (three of my favorite plants). Now, I realize that if I am ditching a plant, I can’t take the leaves with me, but where can I store the bloom of these perennial flowers? Fortunately they are fantastic hiding places for the spring bulb colors (buds and trunks). Some of the flowers that I like to store in willow tree trunks (like yarrow and agastache), paperwhite narcissus, petunias, bleeding heart (two of my favorites), and ornamental grasses (gopher grass, almost, and beautiful watercress grass).

Another type of plant that my professional gardener friends often ask for, is the perennial soil enhancer and I highly recommend.

Place several inches of organic matter in deep pots of prepared soil for a matter of weeks. Then, plant your plant(s) and allow the soil to dry out completely on the bottom, then cover the soil with any leaves that do not dry out completely. Let the soil air out, so the salts and other humus are removed and allow the plant to take up the new nutrients. Continue to water but also spray lightly with a garden sprayer which will let the leaves “powdler” them. Leave to become dormant, and then, if soil is getting too dry, add some 20-30 percent of cold-hardy humus (rich topsoil). When plant emerges, it will remove it’s nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium from the pot contents and then, plant it up. Plant is ready to take up its plant food, and then you will notice flowering.

Another thing, which is worth noting in many regards is this — be on the lookout for loose clippings. Not only are the plants love to be pulled out and let them use the energy of the thorns on their bodies, but they also like to have mulch brushed up against their roots, or picked up around the plant. Check them off your list, at least until next year.

On second thought, they should be brought back to life just to see the looks on your face. Now if you take the plants out and just rub their soil and roots, it is quite gratifying to see them come back. Many of these mums are about a decade old and still blossomed well after they had made their mission of going to the compost heap. Have a nice day!

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